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Hi Mark!
   
  Birds like Herons and Egrets are creatures of opportunity and will probably take almost anything they can manage to swallow. At the Dry Tortugas, Cattle Egrets have been observed taking warblers, etc. at the fountain in the Ft. Jefferson parade ground.
   
  Roy Peterson, Deltona

Mark Miller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
  Twice in the last 2 weeks I have seen an egret eating
an adult bird of another species.

Two weeks ago I saw a Cattle Egret eating what
appeared to be a swallow. This was at STA-5, an
inland area with a lot of Tree Swallows and
Rough-winged Swallows.

Yesterday, near Belle Glade, I saw a Great Egret
eating what appeared to be an adult female Red-winged
Blackbird.

I do not know if either egret killed the bird they
were eating. My impression was that the Red-winged
Blackbird had died very recently. In both cases the
egret flew off with the food in its bill as I
approached.

I have not read much about the diet of egrets and
herons, but I have heard of egrets or herons eating
ducklings and nestlings. The following sentence is
from the BNA Cattle Egret species account:

"During migration, may forage along marine shorelines,
especially for dead or exhausted small migrant birds
(Cunningham 1965) or capture exhausted small migrants
on marine oil rigs (Myers and Wallace 2003)."

Although, an adult swallow at STA-5 would not appear
to fall into those categories.

Fogarty and Hetrick (1973) studied the summer diet of
Cattle Egrets in North Central Florida and did not
report finding avian prey items.

In the BNA Great Egret species account birds are not
mentioned among the prey items eaten. Although I did
not check any of the references cited for additional
details.

I did not intend to post about the Cattle Egret until
I saw the Great Egret yesterday doing something
similar.


Mark W. Miller

Plantation, Florida




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